“The hallway is crowded with so many people,” one girl wrote to her father as those on board contacted relatives from the ship.
[via Sky News] [Cell phone video from disaster ferry]
Teenagers on the stricken South Korean ferry sent heartbreaking messages to their families as it capsized and sank.
Mobile phone footage and messages from passengers suggest they were advised to stay where they were as they vessel listed severely to one side.
But the advice may have effectively sealed the fates of many of those on board, making escape impossible as the ferry sank into the icy depths.
One 18-year-old student messaged his mother on the KakaoTalk messaging app at 9.27am (1.27am UK time) – shortly after the ferry sent its first distress call.
He wrote: “Mum, I’m sending this because I might not be able to say it later. I love you.”
Seven minutes later his mother – unaware of the trouble the vessel was in – replied: “Why? … I thought you don’t check your KakaoTalk messages.
“Me too son… I love you.”
There are reports that the young man involved may be one of the lucky 179 survivors rescued before the ship capsized and went under the water.
Another student sent a series of messages to friends in a theatre club just after 9am.
He wrote: “Hey really seriously.
“Love you all for real.
“Looks like we really are gonna die.
“No really the ship’s tilting.
“You guys really.
“If I’ve wronged any of you. Forgive me.”
A female passenger, also 18, messaged her father at around 10am as the ship started to sink.
She wrote: “Dad don’t worry too much. I am wearing a life vest and am with other girls.”
A few minutes later, as the situation deteriorated, she added: “I can’t. It’s too tilted. Can’t move … it’s more dangerous if I move.”
Her distraught father wrote back, urging her to try to get out, but it was already too late.
“Dad, I can’t. The ship is too tilted. The hallway is crowded with so many people,” she responded in a final message.
At 9.23am a 16-year-old called Kim Woong-Ki texted his older brother saying: “Brother, I’m riding a ship to Jeju Island and the ship hit something and it can’t move.”
After he was asked how bad the damage was, he said: “I don’t know about that, since I’m inside. I don’t have good coverage and just now the Coast Guards arrived.”
The teenager’s brother replied: “The rescue will arrive soon. Don’t panic. Be calm and strong. You just need to move quickly as instructed. When you have coverage contact me again.”
An icon on the brother’s phone shows that his last message was not read and Kim was listed among almost 290 unaccounted for.
Some parents managed a last, traumatic phone call with their children as they tried to escape.
“He told me the ship was tilted over and he couldn’t see anything,” one mother recalled of a panicked conversation with her student son.
“He said ‘I haven’t put on the life jacket yet’, and then the phone went dead,” the mother told the Dong-A Ilbo newspaper.